Prague is a beautiful city and the Interpol office is situated in a more developed and new-looking area of the city, very well situated too since from any way you look, you can see if something happens.
As impressive as the glass building looks and how intimidating the logo of the Interpol is, once getting out of such an intense experience with so many fragile details and mysteries, Ava felt as if she could finally breathe.
The brunette checked if she had everything in her purse before she threw a curious look behind her. No one was minding her, each having their own position to maintain. That left the civilian to wander around freely if she wanted.
Stepping down the stairs and wandering into the busy streets of Prague made her heart calm down. With every meter taken further away from the Interpol building, Anonymous was getting more and more insignificant. She could still not wrap her head around the spontaneous links that were connecting her to the case, especially Johnson who has never given any sign that might get him involved.
It was summer and Europe was going through a very warm period when sunny days were more humid than before. But it was nice, especially with the old feeling surrounding Prague. Ava would have wished to visit the Czech Republic by herself without having a hoard of police officers whispering in the back of her neck but life wasn’t perfect.
All alone on the streets it was impossible not to give in to the desire of exploring. Everything looked beautiful but what triggered her childhood memories were families.
Seeing children with smiling faces while being continuously pampered by their parents was heart breaking yet at the same time beautiful. Ava wished to have such a family when she was a child and she still did.
“Mum! Mum, I need an extra pair of pants for school!”
“We’ll get it when your brother needs it. You can go with the ones you have already.”
“Victor, look at your sister. She’s not asking for anything. Be more like her.”
On top of the stairs, watching the little boy complain to his mother was his younger sister. She was dressed in clothes that didn’t fit her and she knew they have been his. Having three children in a family was hard, especially when only one parent was working. Money was never enough but Mrs. Atkins seemed to have developed a plan. The elder brother, James would pass his clothes to Victor and then he would pass them to Ava. Unfortunately, children from school immediately noticed the boyish clothes and would often comment about it.
Since his mum wasn’t going to give up and buy him new clothes, Victor stomped his foot angrily and walked to his sister.
“I hate this family.” He mumbled before sitting on the top stairs. “Mum doesn’t even care how we feel at school. My clothes seem to fit somehow but yours...”
Victor was 13 years old but he was very mature for his age. He had a sharp eye and most of the time, he’d pick on the way his sister seemed so lonely.
“They bully you, don’t they? I saw it a few times before.” He started.
“Then why didn’t you help me?”
Probably Victor never thought she would carry on the subject but she did.
“Why didn’t you come to scare them away? You are taller than them and you are a boy while they are little girls. Why didn’t you come and hold my hand?” Little Ava asked, her brown eyes staring into her brother’s.
Victor was speechless. He might have seen it but not acted in his sister’s defense.
“I guess I was afraid. They would come after me and I can’t-” He stopped knowing that what he was saying wad selfish. He was a mature child but still not enough. He was just a 13 years old after all.
Ava blinked those memories away, feeling her heart cringe at the way life was back then. But still, it was so much better than the chaos that ensued a week after that conversation.
Walking around Prague, she ended up near Hotel Galileo where she got that mysterious welcome. Someone knew she was there but she didn’t know if the perpetrator had any connection to her dead colleague. Johnson was a private person but never enough for that to happen.
Ava sighed and rubbed her forehead, having a huge headache from all those memories surfacing to the light. It felt like a lifetime passed since she had last remembered and it still wasn’t enough. She could still hear the screams muffled by the classical music. It would start slow and quickly move into an Allegro. That man, he liked to believe that he was an intellectual, a man above other men, a savior.
“In order to be a savior one has to commit every sin. Only then he can be saved and only then he can save others.” He whispered in her ear before walking to the stereo he had in his living room and turning it on.
He had a preference for the violin concertos. He would play different concertos from different composers for each child. His favorites were Bach, Mendelssohn and Tartini; two Baroque composers and one composer from the beginning of the Romantic period. He found that proper for their cases.
Ava could still remember the first time she heard Bach’s Violin Concerto in C sharp. How it sounded so beautiful compared to how dirty she was and how the metal felt when it touched her ankles.
The brunette closed her eyes and leaned against the nearby building. She was careful to take a breath in and then breathe out very slowly. It was basic treatment against panic attacks and it was always working in early stages. However she could still hear the music playing in her ears. She looked around and realized everyone could hear it. It was coming from somewhere up in the sky as if God wanted his creation to hear the introduction to its demise.
Indeed, up in the air was a zeppelin just like the one in Vatican. The masked didn’t appear but the zeppelin seemed to lose height very fast. The song was getting louder and her memories were becoming clearer. His face was all she could see until she heard a loud noise. The zeppelin crushed a few more buildings to the right, destroying Hotel Galileo on his downfall.
Back at the Interpol, officers were running around chaotically, none very sure what they were supposed to say to their chief.
“First Hallstatt and now Prague, right under our noses. That’s a bold move for someone so meticulous, isn’t it?” Marvin started, speaking more to himself than his recent chief.
But Chief Inspector Ruben was overwhelmed by the numerous events unfolding in such a short time, one after another. He leaned against the nearest cubicle and sighed heavily, his hands starting to sweat from stress.
“It’s mid-day. I thought they didn’t want casualties.” He hissed, angry with himself more than anyone else.
Marvin’s expression softened up at the sight of his boss but he was more curious why a zeppelin in Vatican and one in Prague.
Unfortunately he didn’t have time to question deeper those reasons because Ruben’s phone rang at the same time a young officer barged inside swaying a paper above his head.
“Boss! Boss, they did leave a message! One of the officers in Hallstatt e-mailed it to me!”
Ruben nodded and signed for Marvin to read it while he was going to answer his phone. It must have been from a higher up since he let the ginger detective with such an incredible new finding.
The young officer gave the sheet of paper to him but kept close, reading it again over Marvin’s shoulder. Those Interpol agents must have eaten something during their training because they were all tall.
While Marvin was reading and re-reading the message, Leo sneaked through the furious crowd of police men, searching for the one person that could give him an insight to Anonymous’ plan. She wasn’t there but Lanchester’s ginger head was impossible to miss.
“Where is Dr. Atkins? I have been meaning to ask her some- what is that?”
Leo knew he was a tad curious for his own sake but seeing Lanchester’s hands holding so tightly onto that simple piece of paper was enough to quirk him. Since Marvin didn’t seem like he will let someone else read it anytime soon, Leo nudged the officer aside and took a long dreadful look at it.
“’Because your question searches for a deeper meaning,
I shall explain in simple words’ she said,
’just why I have no fear of coming here.
A man must stand in fear of just those things
That truly have the power to do us harm,
Of nothing else, for nothing else is fearsome.” Leo read it out-loud, very slowly so the meaning could fully register in his mind.
“This one is longer and it’s written directly in English. They’re blunt. They know what we don’t know.” Marvin mumbled, loud enough for only Leo to hear.
“Fear of coming here…are they going to appear before us? It sounds like taunting.” Leo whispered, his eyes widening at the prospect of having to deal with them so actively.
Marvin sighed before he fully turned to the Italian officer. He looked so innocent compared to the others yet at the same time, Marvin could see wit and desire to affirm himself in front of those Interpol men. The ginger detective smiled sheepishly when he finally understood just what he had in front of him, eagerly waiting for his turn. The older man wrapped an arm around his shoulder and pulled him along towards the front door.
“Let’s take a walk, shall we? We may find ourselves discussing things that shouldn’t be discussed outside this building.” Marvin started nonchalantly, as if a zeppelin didn’t just crash in Prague a few minutes ago.
“But sir, there’s an urgency and-“
Marvin shook his head, keeping that relaxed demeanor and smiling face. He was quite short and needed to stretch a bit to keep a strong grasp on Leo, who was younger and fitter, but he could manage for a few more steps.
Only when they got a few feet from the building did Marvin open his mouth again and explained his intentions to the young officer.
“Anonymous are around us but we can’t hear them because of the chaos inside. Remember what they urged us to do?” The detective asked expectantly.
Leo’s answer was accurate, as expected of a newbie. The ginger English man let Leo go and stretched, finally finding a logical path to lead his search on.
“Exactly. The Interpol, police everywhere doesn’t take it seriously but I believe we should. Anonymous can be me or you; can be anyone if we think about it. That’s why we should be where everybody is and listen to what everybody listens.”
Leo’s mind was processing Marvin’s words very fast but still couldn’t understand the meaning between those lines. What Leo knew for sure was that detective Lanchester was having a lot of fun.